January 13, 2023

Managing Painful Arthritis During the Winter with Exercise

Exercise is important for everyone, but it’s particularly important for those with arthritis. By increasing flexibility, range of motion, and strength, exercise makes moving easier.

"Arthritis can make it hard to get moving, but the right movements play a key role in relieving arthritis pain," explains Savannah Howe, EmpowerMe Wellness' Director of Clinical Training and Support. "Remember to be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time."

Here are five low-impact activities that can make a difference in arthritis pain.

  • Indoor Walking
  • Water Aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Gentle Stretching
  • Range of Motion Exercises

Adults with arthritis who have normal physical function and no other severe health conditions are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. If you haven't exercised in a while, start slowly. First, talk to your care provider about making exercise a part of your treatment. The ideal exercises for you will depend on the type of arthritis, and which joints are affected. A member of your health care team, such as a physical or occupational therapist, can work with you to find the exercise plan that's best for you.

Some benefits can be immediate, such as improvements to sleep, mood, energy, pain levels, flexibility, and range of motion. Long-term benefits can include better bone health, strengthened muscles, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving overall mobility and quality of life.

Managing Arthritis in Winter

During winter months, it can be easy to indulge habits that can cause arthritis pain to worsen. Minimize winter arthritis pain with these tips:

  • Stay active: Any movement, no matter how small, can help with staying mobile and decreasing joint pain.
  • Eat well: Reduce inflammatory foods that could make joint pain and symptoms worse. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, nuts, and seeds, and limit sugar and carbohydrates.
  • Keep warm: Dress in layers; wear a scarf, thick socks, and gloves to keep aching joints warm.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: This can reduce pain and stiffness in weight-bearing joints, such as knees, hips, and spine.
  • Reduce stress: Stress can cause increased inflammation and pain. Take note of situations that cause you stress and try to avoid them, when possible.

If arthritis pain worsens or is unmanageable, contact your care provider. They will determine the best intervention to reduce pain, improve mobility, and improve your overall quality of life.